Saturday, March 1, 2014

No. 243 Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment State Park covers 1,882 acres, has 2 miles of ocean beaches and features 2 lighthouses the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and the North Head Lighthouse. The cliff at the southern tip of the park rise to over 230 feet above the Pacific Ocean. There are many trails that traverse the state park and lead you to the lighthouses and interpretive center. There are primitive to full utility sites available for tents and RV's and you can also reserve yurts via the state website. Modern bathroom facilities have coin operated hot showers.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Ilwaco WA

The Columbia River, named after Captain Robert Grey's vessel Columbia Redivivia in 1792, travels nearly 1,200 miles from its source in the Canadian rockies before reaching the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment. The width and strength of the Columbia River causes lots of sand and sediment to build up at the mouth of the river. The rapid flowing river over the shallow sand bar colliding with the Pacific Ocean creates one of the worlds most dangerous waterways. Between 1725 and 1961 234 ships have run aground or been sunk by the turbulent waters. 
The current name for Cape Disappointment dates back to a captain's log entry from July 1788 made by Captain John Meares, who tried to seek shelter for his vessel during a violent sea. After rounding the cape in search of calmer waters he wrote, "Disappointment continued to accompany us...we can safely say no river exists." Captain Meares christened the cape, "Cape Disappointment."
The first attempts at marking the entrance to the Columbia River included topping of trees on the bluff and hanging a white flag. The increased marine traffic and shipwrecks along the cape resulted in a need for better navigation including channel markers and a lighthouse. On October 15th, 1856 the 53' foot tall Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was light. The lighthouse was maintained by 7 different light keepers from 1856 to 1930s. The fourth-order Fresnel lens was removed and the light electrified in 1937. The lighthouse became fully automated in 1973. 
In March 1865 after the bark Industry wrecked near the cape and 17 crew drowned Light Keeper Captain Munson rebuilt a battered longboat as a lifeboat. One year later the cargo ship W.B Scranton ran aground and the entire crew was saved with the lifeboat. Through Lighthouse Keeper Munson's efforts a life saving station was established in 1871. 
Today the United States Coast Guard continues to respond to maritime emergencies from its Cape D station located at Cape Disappointment and to train crew members from across the country on surf and heavy seas rescues through its National Motor Lifeboat School. 

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Ilwaco WA
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse distinctive black horizontal stripe was added to distinguish it from the North Head Lighthouse just 2 miles to the north
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Ilwaco WA

National Motor Lifeboat School photo credit: USCG Petty Officer Jamie Parsons  
Waikiki Beach, Cape Disappointment State Park, WA
View from Waikiki Beach Photo credit : Abhinaba Basu


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